High school athletics: Executive Director tells House committee LHSAA hasn’t discussed canceling fall sports season

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During a meeting of the House Committee on Education Monday morning, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the organization has “at no time” had conversations about cancelling any fall sports, according to multiple media reports.

But Bonine did tell the committee football games will not be played until Phase 4 of the re-opening of the state’s economy has been reached.

With Louisiana still in Phase 2 until at least July 24, Bonine’s remarks made news. But Haughton head football coach Jason Brotherton said not being allowed to play games until Phase 4 is nothing new.

“I don’t have all the answers by any stretch but what (Bonine) said today is no different from what we were already operating under,” he said. “I don’t think we were ever going to play until we got to that Phase. We knew we had to get to Phase 3 and out of Phase 3 to play.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve got parents calling me now saying, do we still go to practice, do we still do this. It’s almost like they didn’t really give us new info but for other people that had not thought about it like that or looked at it that closely. The coaches, I think we all already knew that. 

“I think the commissioner (Bonine) wanted to get up there and say, ‘Hey, we’re playing football in the fall; you get us to Phase 4.’ Almost pulling it out of his hands and putting it all on the government.”

In a tweet sent Monday afternoon, the Louisiana High School Coaches Association basically said the same thing as Brotherton.

“Just so you know- NO vote took place by the LHSAA from the state capitol concerning football. Also NO breaking news concerning playing high school football -ALWAYS was the case -cannot play football games until Phase 4. Also high school sports NOT cancelled until Phase 4. @LHSAA”

The state has been in Phase 2 since June 6. On June 22, Governor John Bel Edwards announced the state would remain in Phase 2 for 28 more days because of a rise in COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations in several regions across the state.

On July 20, Edwards is expected to announce if the state will go to Phase 3. On Saturday, he announced a statewide mandate requiring face coverings with some exceptions, ordered bars closed for on-premises consumption and no gatherings of more than 50 people in response to an increasing spread of the virus.

Athletes in sports at LHSAA member schools have been working out under the organization’s Summer Rules with Phase 2 guidelines and restrictions since June 8. The Summer Rules end Aug. 10 with fall rules regarding practices taking effect.

According to media reports, Bonine exhibited a chart showing what was allowed in each fall and winter sport under each phase of the reopening.

According to the chart, football practice is allowed in Phase 3 but games aren’t allowed until Phase 4. The same applies to soccer, wrestling and basketball.

Plain Dealing first-year head football coach Christopher Wilson tweeted this.

“Until LHSAA makes a formal announcement, We will continue working. If they blow it up. Then its blown up. We’ll adhere to the provisions set out by our Athletic Association.”

Haughton has a scrimmage set for Aug. 20. The annual Bossier Lions Club Jamboree is Aug. 28. Football season openers for parish teams are Sept. 4.

As Wilson tweeted, until there’s a formal announcement, that’s the timeline coaches, athletes and administrators are working toward.

With about six weeks until the scrimmage, if that timeline is going to change, a formal announcement will have to be made soon.

There have been some scenarios discussed like delaying all the sports seasons by three weeks or flipping the fall and spring seasons.

After a meeting of the LHSAA’s executive committee earlier this month, it was reported that the latter is not something the organization wants to do.